Hey Tom, quick update, going back to the SRV…
In light of your detailed notes, I took another listen to SRV Couldn’t Stand the Weather, this time at VOLUME. Oh boy, what a revelation. (Wasn’t able to do this over the weekend with young kids around, but this being a ‘work’ day with the four y/o at school, and Mama and the baby dancing to what they can hear in the next room… : ))
There seems to be a threshold level for this record which it sounds congested below, but which it comes alive above (and how).
I also noticed that my previous observations about the ratings of sides A and B were reversed at this volume level; there is more bass on side A, which was resulting in it sounding more congested at lower levels, but which is delicious when played loud; side B sounds a bit thin a louder volumes comparatively. I guess this is more in line with what you heard when reviewing.
So – I will definitely hang on to the CSTW record, and do a similar re-evaluation of Soul to Soul tomorrow. Being able to blast Better Records during ‘work’ hours is one of the few upsides of this pandemic (I work from home as a product designer… if you ever need help with your website, let me know).
Long term will get some bigger speakers… this has been a good discovery for me about the strengths and limits of my system.
You hit the nail on the head with your revision of the sound of the two sides at loud levels. We don’t know what our rock and electric blues and even classical records sound like at moderate levels. We don’t play them that way, and we don’t want to hear them that way. Playing records too quietly obscures their faults. It also reduces the energy, whatever dynamic contrasts they might have, the ability to play clean in the loudest climaxes or choruses, and on and on down the list.
If someone were to invite me to hear their system, my first question would be “do you play your records at loud volumes?”
If the answer were no, I would stay home. What is more frustrating then music that won’t come alive?
Have you ever been in an audio showroom where they refused to play the system at anything but moderate levels? Of course you have. They never turn it up very loud because their systems fall apart at loud levels. (The rooms are at fault for a lot of the bad sound. Good room treatments are ugly and scare away potential customers.)
Assuming that audiophiles won’t insist on playing these stereos at realistic levels and finding out just how bad they are is a pretty safe bet.
It took me decades to figure out what was going with these audio salons. You couldn’t pay me to go to one now.